The Sky Stunt

7 May

By Nell DiPasquantonio
7th Grade

My brother is stupid. Yes, I know every girl thinks her older brother is stupid, but you haven’t even seen such immaturity until you’ve seen Steve. He’s not the kind of stupid where you know you’re joking, he knows you’re joking, and you really both love each other on the inside, which is usually the case in sibling relationships. He’s more the kind of stupid where you couldn’t dream of doing something that immature and crazy. But he’s still my brother. But he’s still stupid. He has a bit of a competitive streak, and nothing can hold him back from gaining more attention.

Back when Steve was five and I was three, he acted like a perfectly normal kindergartener. Once in a while, he would say something like, “My sandcastle is so big I can fit inside it. With Ginger!” Ginger was our dog at that point. A Golden Retriever; yeah, it was a big sandcastle. There was also, “I made a macaroni headdress, not a silly necklace.” That’s not too crazy; all brothers are a little competitive. One time when I was five and Steve was seven we decided to climb trees. I climbed a couple branches of a medium sized tree (my parents were very proud) but Steve scaled a 25-foot spruce, and proceeded to hop onto the roof. Despite all of this, I was still my parents’ favorite. I don’t know if they felt sorry for me, but I was always spoiled. When I was six, my little sister Lindsey was born, and they babied her.

When Steve was in the third grade, he made his first real friend. His name was Tommy Motoster, and we had a terrible relationship. He had one of those haircuts that has a slight Mohawk, but from there down it was very Beiber. It’s hard to picture, but then you see it in person and you immediately understand. Tommy learned very quickly about Steve’s need for attention, but he didn’t think it would ever affect him.

Too soon after that, Tommy died. Kidding, he didn’t actually die, but thanks to Steve, he got closer than he would have liked. Apparently, some other kid dared Steve that he couldn’t jump over their school’s fence between the kindergarten and upper playground on a tricycle. It was dangerous, immature, and just plain ridiculous. So Steve had to do it. On the kindergarten side, there was a see-saw he decided to use as a starting ramp.

After gathering the tricycle, a dismount ramp, and some safety padding, as well as a large crowd, he revved the bike’s imaginary engine and took off. When he bounced off the see-saw, he also bounced off the bike, but managed to regain his position in midair and hit ground halfway down his dismount ramp. The only problem was that he was going backwards. The crowd parted as he flew quickly past. Tommy was oblivious, and no one has ever thought to put brakes on school tricycles, so Steve plowed straight towards him and ran him over. Tommy broke one leg and an arm, and never talked to Steve again.

Now Steve is in the seventh grade. Since the tricycle incident, he’s done countless ill-advised stunts. Every time, he was accompanied by another unwise friend. Currently, he’s found a new goon, named Gino Bellachi. He’s a tall broad, Italian guy who’s been held back a few years. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. They met when Steve randomly challenged “anyone of you boneless chumps” to a jacket-wearing competition.

Steve came in first, with 37 jackets on at once, but Gino was a close second. He managed to wear 28 jackets, which is surprising for a guy of his size. Steve had finally found someone almost as competitive as himself. Someone who could “understand his strive for excellence” as he put it. So, they started doing the tag team stunts, like piggy-back riding for a solid 12 hours, nonstop.

Recently, they’ve been getting a little more competitive. Steve ate a whole chicken, so Gino ate two turkeys and a baked potato. Gino snapped four pens at one time, so Steve snapped six pens and one of those stringy eraser thingies. It’s more impressive than it sounds; I’ve tried to snap one of those erasers. You get my point. Yesterday, Gino and this other friend of theirs were over at our house and I overheard them talking.

“Come on, man, this could make your career!” Gino pleaded.

“Yeah, you’ve got to do it,” the friend chimed in.

“I don’t know guys. I’m not as young as I used to be,” Steve replied.

“What’s happened to you? You’re the guy who fit in a trombone locker, the guy who jumped the fence on the tricycle!” Gino was anxious.

I could practically see Steve contemplating his choices. Would he risk his life for more popularity?

“Fine. I’ll do it. But if I get hurt, I’m coming after you,” he decided.

After their conversation, they headed downstairs, so I snuck into Steve’s room to see what they were talking about. Above his sea of dirty clothes, sandwiched between two Guinness World Record posters sat a whiteboard. On it were the details of his crazy stunt. I didn’t try to make out his messy handwriting, but the diagram caught my eye. It said, bags plus pump equals globe, I think. But then there was a picture of a person in a circle that was attached to something. I wondered what Steve was planning. It had to be big for him to be nervous about failure.

The next morning, I was eating my usual Saturday breakfast: leftover pizza from “Friday Family Fun Night.” Suddenly, Steve came barging through the back door. He had spent the night at Gino’s, for he had a deep hatred for Family Fun Friendly Freddie Whatever It’s Called Night. Anyway, he had at least 30 plastic shopping bags in his arms, followed by Gino, who was carrying another 20 and a helium balloon pump. This must have to do with the scene on the whiteboard.

I decided I needed to see what they were doing. Once they were halfway up the stairs, I followed them, tiptoeing, and still eating my pizza crust. They reached Steve’s room, leaving the door a couple of inches open. Peering through the crack, I saw that they had dumped all 50 plastic bags onto Steve’s bed and were, you guessed it, spraying each other with the balloon pump.

“No! Don’t get that thing so close to my face!” Steve yelled, laughing.

“Sorry, bro, but your nose gets all pig like and it’s hilarious!” Gino said, throwing in an oink.

“Okay, in all seriousness. We need to get to work on the SIAFBITS plan,” Steve said, pointing to the whiteboard.

SIAFBITS. C eye af bits. What could that stand for? Serious Idiots Attempt Failure By Intertwining Two Snakes. It’s possible, but unlikely they would say that about themselves. Steve In A Feathery Boa In The Sewer. While I was pondering this, Steve’s ceiling had become a cloudy sky of helium pumped plastic bags.

Then it dawned on me. The diagram on the whiteboard, the supplies, the floating bags now blocking my view of Steve’s room. He’s going to make a giant balloon bubble out of plastic bags. Steve In A Floating Bubble In The Sky. This was why he was so hesitant to do it. I couldn’t let him.

“Steve!” I said, opening the door, and letting loose at least 40 floating bags, “I can’t let you do this!”

“What?” Gino immediately brought his hands to his mouth, realizing he had a chipmunk voice from inhaling helium. Clearing and deepening his voice, he said, “I mean, what do you want, Bethany?”

“I know what Steve’s doing, and it is not cool. Do you guys realize this stunt could kill him?”

“Well, I have-“ Steve started.

“No! I cannot let you do this. I can’t believe you let him convince you of such immature stupidity! It’s so senseless, so thoughtless, who even thought of such a crazy idea?” Steve then gestured to Gino, and Gino gestured towards Steve.

“What do you care what he does?” Gino said as he stood and walked slowly towards me. “If I were you, I’d leave now, before anything bad happens.” As his fists clenched tighter they squeezed my previous confidence right out of me, and I could taste my heartbeat in my throat.

At that exact moment, Lindsey came toddling down the hallway behind me, so I grabbed her around the waist and held her in front of me. I backed away, saying, “You wouldn’t hurt a little kindergartener, would you?” As soon as I felt the cool, ridged wall behind me, I plopped Lindsey down and started running.

All of the sudden, I felt my ankle bracelet catch on the tassels of our “vintage” hall rug. I felt the ground I had once relied on so heavily disappear from beneath me, and the sharp corners of the wooden stairs got closer and closer. Then, a thud, so large that I tried to look away, but there was no escaping the sound of a thud, a crack, a thud, a crack. As the wood rose and fell beneath me, my mind went blank.

I awoke in my room, tucked ever so neatly in bed that I almost considered that event a dream. I didn’t know how long it had been. Lindsey was splayed out over the covers, not sleeping, but staring at me intently. Her head was propped up on her shoulders, and her eyes were wide with anticipation and excitement.

Smiling, she said, “ Yay! Sissy’s awake!”

“Lindsey, what happened?” I said, suddenly aware of a pounding feeling in my head.

“Beef fell down went boom.” Okay, I’m Beef, and I know I fell, and the boom is probably…Oh, forget it; I needed to go find a better explanation. Shoving Lindsey aside, I got up to go find my parents.

“Hey honey, you’re awake,” my mom crooned.

“Uh, yeah. How long was I asleep?”

“Well, you fell down on Saturday, so about eight months,” Dad said casually.

“Yeah, I’m sure, but for real.”

“About two days,” Mom said.

So it must be Monday. Glancing at the clock, I saw it was about 11:30. So I should have been at Language Arts. I should have been at school. I should have been awake all weekend.

After microwaving what I assumed to be my family’s dinner leftovers, spaghetti and meatballs, I remembered. Steve. Bubble. Impending Doom. I couldn’t do anything about it untill he got done with school, so I settled for just running laps through the house for multiple hours. My energy level was unparalleled by any other time in my life, and it didn’t wear off.

Then Dad stopped me and made me sit down and rest my head although it wasn’t really bothering me that much. At the stroke of three, I shoved two flip flops of different pairs on my feet, and flew across the street to Washington Middle School, where Steve is a student. I spotted him on the blacktop next to Gino, holding the plastic bags like balloons.

Running over to them, I grabbed a sharp thingy lying on the ground and popped a balloon.

“Hey!” Steve said, startled and quickly turning around.

“Oh, it’s you.” Gino wasn’t surprised. “We eedna to etga waya romfa her,” he said to Steve.

“I do understand Pig Latin, you know,” I said.

“Look guys! She has a picture of that guy from that show wearing a moustache and holding a puppy!” Steve yelled. He tossed me a piece of paper as I disappeared amidst a crowd of celerity-obsessed middle schoolers. I looked at the paper. It really was that guy from that show wearing a mustache and holding a puppy. Meanwhile, the crowd was getting angry that they couldn’t see it, so I held the photo at arm’s length and rotated to give everyone access as they took photos of it. Once the crowd dispersed, I ran across the blacktop to the field and saw Gino. In. The. Bubble.

The bubble wasn’t done yet, but it was clear that Gino was inside of it, where Steve should have been. Steve was nearby, so I said to him, “Aren’t you supposed to be in there?”

“Technically, yes. Gino can’t glue for his life, so he’s modeling,” Steve said nonchalantly.

“So, are you still gonna fly?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Why? You realize you could die?”

“Yeah, but according to my math, the added force of my weight and the helium’s weakening lift power, the bubble should only fly a maximum of 20 feet. And there are ropes.” Oh. That sounds reasonable. “If you want to, you can hold one.”

I thought about it. Did I really want to be the little fifth grader clinging to her brother in front of everyone? “No, I’ll trust Gino with that one. I’ll just watch.”

Steve nodded and resumed gluing the plastic bags into the bubble formation around Gino. Trying to look as casual and relaxed as the middle school students, I got out my phone and played Flappy Birds, not letting the sophisticated seventh graders see me fail at level 2. Repeatedly.

Soon enough, Gino was squeezing out of an opening in the bubble, and Steve climbed in. I watched as Steve sat in its center, instructing Gino in the way you would tell a three-year-old which crayon was colored green. Once the final seam was sealed, they didn’t have much time to waste.

Steve still sat in the center, practically meditating as Gino untied the ropes one at a time and took a volunteer from the audience to hold each one. Gino gave a miniature speech about how amazing and exciting and daring this all was, and Steve lifted up into the spring breeze.

The sun reflected off the bubble, giving it the glow of a god descending from the skies. In that moment of serenity, I saw why he wanted to do this. The experience, the truly unique experience, was so beautiful, so unsurpassed in so many ways, that it just begged to be done. And he was safe, so why not?

Then something happened. A ball from the nearby soccer game sent one of the rope-holders flying into another, causing them to let go of their ropes. The bubble shifted, and Steve’s face, high above us, was most definitely alarmed.

Of the two still holding onto it, one was especially struggling, being about four feet tall and quite thin. “Hey guys, my glasses are all fogged up,” he said. Then he let go, wiping his glasses with sweaty palms and looking up at what he could not again reach. The remaining rope, held daintily by a girl wearing a huge bun, slid slowly between her fingers as the strain got harder and harder to handle. You can count on Gino to pick the weakest people in the area to keep my brother safe.

Panicking, I ran towards the rope opposite the girl’s to try to stabilize the balloon, but I was just a few seconds too late. Steve drifted away from us towards…OUR HOUSE!

The breeze was blowing him right towards the very top of our house, towards the chimney and the needle of our weathervane. Yes, we have a weathervane. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me across the street and positioned myself where he could possibly fall.

The bubble inched closer, and I was joined by more kids from the school waiting for Steve’s demise. My parents saw us from inside and came out, following our gazes to Steve, who waved nervously at them.

“Okay everyone,” my dad said, “ anyone who’s not here to help, go back over to the school. Annie, will you call the police? Gino, you and Bethany arrange everyone who’s staying so we can catch Steve in this picnic blanket.” He tossed one at me and gave me the this-isn’t-good-Bethany look.

We arranged our catching position—a circle—quickly. Then there was a pop. Not huge, not terrifying or loud. The bubble started gracefully falling towards us, having enough helium in the remaining bags to create a gentle fall. Steve landed gently on the blanket, and climbed out. He tumbled down onto the ground, looking relieved to be alive. Our parents rushed over to him, and picked him up.

“I can’t believe you tried to do this!” Mom yelled.

“Well, I um…” Steve looked around at his friends.

“This is worse than the bike incident. Why do you do this Steve?” Mom said.

“How about we take this inside,” Dad said to the two of them, and they filed indoors to continue their conversation.

I’m not sure what was said, but they came back out as different people.

“And wasn’t I so cool and god-like?” Steve said as they walked out.

“Yes, yes you were honey.” Mom gave him a squeeze. “Okay kids, you can leave, the show’s over.”

They filed out, high fiving and hugging each other as though they accomplished something, and we just stood there. One big, happy family. Well, Lindsey wasn’t there. Just as I thought that, she came outside.

“What happened?” she asked.

“Steve did something… amazing.” And that was that. He really is amazing, outstanding, and definitely not stupid.

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